CHENNAI: The three ancient temples in Mangadu are dedicated to Vellishwarar (Siva), Vaikuntha Perumal (Vishnu) and Kamakshi Amman (Parvati). Among them, Kamakshi Amman temple in the centre of Mangadu is most visited. According to legend, Parvati was cursed by Siva to come down to the earth as she had playfully closed his eyes and the entire world stood still. In Mangadu, she performed penance by standing on one leg amid five types of fire to be reunited with Siva.
At the same time Shukra or Planet Venus (Velli in Tamil) too performed penance to Siva at this place to get back his eye which he had lost for blocking Mahabali’s charity. When Siva came to claim Parvati, he first granted his blessings to Shukra, the devotee. As Shukra was then worshipping Siva, this deity could not bless Kamakshi (Parvati). Siva advised her to go to Kancheepuram to continue her penance and join him.
The main deity in the central east-facing sanctum is Kamakshi Amman who holds a parrot in her right hand and has a crescent moon on her head. The entrance is guarded by two lady door-guardians (dvarapalika). A rare bronze idol of Parvati performing penance standing on one leg surrounded by five fires with the prayer-beads (akshamala) held in one hand above the head is worshipped here.
The Sri Chakra worshipped in front of the main deity is believed to have been consecrated by Adi Shankaracharya. According to tradition, ablution with sacred water (abhisekha) is performed for Kamakshi and archana to Sri Chakra.
Most inscriptions belong to the Chola and Vijayanagra times. The earliest epigraph is of the reign of Uttama Chola dated 985 AD. Another one is from the reign of Pandyan emperor Jatavarman Sundara Pandya I dated 1256 AD. A Vijayanagara stone record mentions an agreement among the villagers prohibiting the sale of lands to outsiders.
(The writer is a historian who focuses on temple architecture)